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Do Children Learn Languages Faster than Adults?

This is a very frequently asked question and the answer is definitely yes.

Another common question, similar to the one above, is “is it easier to learn languages as a child?” and again the answer is yes.

Of course, some adults are really good at picking up new languages and linguistic structures. However, children, in general, learn languages easier and faster than adults.

There are many reasons why children learn languages faster than adults and why it is easier to learn languages as a child. You’ll find out why in this post.

How Do Babies Learn Languages?

First of all, we have to focus on babies. Why? Because human learning processes start when we’re babies.

Babies are born with no mental structures, with no sense of ethics, sociability, and languages. They learn anything by observing the outside world. We could say they’re the best observers among all human beings. That’s why we, adults, should be great examples for them.

This is true for languages too. If we want them to start speaking at an early age we should constantly provide them with words, expressions, and sounds. If we want them to speak well, we have to use correct structures and give them correct sentences.

As soon as they can express themselves, they’ll reproduce what they have learned from us because they acquire the language used around them.

This process is called language acquisition: babies acquire language with no effort or formal teaching in a fast and easy way. It happens automatically through interaction and imitation.

Children Learn Languages Faster

Sometimes, we underestimate children and their ability to learn. We tend to see them as small adults, but they are just children learning things that adults have already learned. So, in a way, they make bigger efforts than adults. We already know what they might not know yet so they’re learning all the time.

In terms of language, children learn languages easier than adults. If you’re not convinced, think of all those young children who move to foreign countries and pick up the local language faster than their parents. Sometimes, they even speak the local language better than local children.

They have a special ability to learn languages faster because they have recently acquired a their native language so they unconsciously know what it means to learn a new language and how to do so.

Why Do Children Learn Languages Faster?

Now you might be wondering why children learn languages faster and there are many reasons why.

First, their brain is elastic, just like a sponge. It absorbs everything new and reproduces it. And they don’t have any other structures as references, so they imitate what they hear in order to be able to communicate as soon as possible.

Also, children tend to have fewer inhibitions. Think of a small child playing on the floor and singing a song. Even if they’re surrounded by adults, they usually don’t care. This is because they don’t feel judged. Judgment is learned later in life. Thus, it’s easier for them to learn a language because they don’t feel uncomfortable making mistakes and sounding silly like an adult would.

Children usually learn a second language when they move to another country in a much faster way because they are surrounded by native speakers and don’t mind. Whereas, adults sometimes prefer to hang out with people who speak their language.

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